One company has come up with an interesting angle to generate business for their fledgling 3D printing service.
Brooklyn-based Voodoo Manufacturing is one of several new startups focusing on the “small run” manufacturing market. This is not prototyping, but instead trying to bridge the gap between a one-off prototype and the costs of setting up mass manufacturing.
Typical mass-manufacturing adventures involve a substantial setup cost to produce molds for injection molding. Once produced, huge quantities of identical objects can be efficiently manufactured. However, the price of the setup can be so much that it doesn’t make sense to use that process unless you’re assured of selling a large quantity of units. That’s not always the case.
What if you need, say, 1,000 units only? It’s not worth the setup cost. This is where the new 3D printing “small run” services come in. They’ll use 3D printing to produce your item in smaller quantities that still make sense – but may not if the quantity is too high. It fills that gap between “one” and “lots”.
But how do you get business if you have such an operation? As more small-run services emerge, competition becomes challenging.
Voodoo Manufacturing has launched a new program that has a two-fold way of attracting business. They’ve teamed with NYC-based Body Labs, who provide various services related to 3D body scans.
Their joint service is able to print a true, life-size 3D print of a human body. Body Labs provides the 3D scan data, and Voodoo Manufacturing produces the 3D prints. All this for a mere USD$3,000, which actually isn’t that bad a price for such a huge 3D print.
At top you can see a box with the 88 separate segments required to 3D print Voodoo Manufacturing’s CEO, Jonathan Schwartz in full size. Here you can see the assembled version:
I think this is a brilliant idea to bring business to the small-run manufacturer. Consider that such a project requires a lot – but not a huge amount – of 3D printed parts; Each project would require a minimum number of parts; Printing such parts on your own would take an extremely long time, probably weeks in duration. It’s also a project that certain people would just want to do at this price.
Will this be successful? Who knows, but it’s another way to bring business to both Body Labs and Voodoo Manufacturing. I’m expecting such firms to continually develop new applications that gradually build out their volume.